Burma’s Suu Kyi stripped of Amnesty’s highest award
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Burma’s Suu Kyi stripped of Amnesty’s highest award

HUMAN RIGHTS watchdog Amnesty International on Tuesday withdrew its highest honour accorded to Burmese (Myanmar) leader Aung San Suu Kyi over her “shameful betrayal” of the values she stood for.

Amnesty’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo wrote to Suu Kyi on Nov 11 to inform her that the Ambassador of Conscience Award conferred to her in 2009 is being revoked.

“As an Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience, our expectation was that you would continue to use your moral authority to speak out against injustice wherever you saw it, not least within Myanmar itself,” Naidoo said in a letter to Suu Kyi.

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“Today, we are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defence of human rights.

“Amnesty International cannot justify your continued status as a recipient of the Ambassador of Conscience award and so with great sadness, we are hereby withdrawing it from you.”

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Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar speaks during a town hall meeting hosted by Amnesty International at the Newseum in Washington, DC, Sept 20, 2012. Source: AFP

Naidoo said halfway through her term in office, and eight years after her release from house arrest, Amnesty was disappointed that Suu Kyi had not used her political and moral authority to safeguard human rights, justice or equality in Burma.

Amnesty pointed to Suu Kyi’s apparent indifference to atrocities committed by the Burmese military in the conflict-ridden Rakhine, Shan and Kachin states, and “increasing intolerance” of freedom of expression.

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Suu Kyi was named Ambassador of Conscience in 2009 to recognise of her peaceful and non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights. At the time, the freedom fighter was held under house arrest but subsequently release exactly eight years ago on Sunday.

When finally accepting the award, Suu Kyi asked Amnesty to “not take either your eyes or your mind off us and help us to be the country where hope and history merges.”

“Amnesty International took Aung San Suu Kyi’s request that day very seriously, which is why we will never look away from human rights violations in Myanmar,” said Kumi Naidoo.

“We will continue to fight for justice and human rights in Myanmar – with or without her support.”